Oil & Chemical Tank Decommissioning

Oil and chemical tank removals pose major environmental and health and safety risks, in 2016 a major utility company and their subcontractor were fined over £900,000 after a poorly planned tank removal job led to a serious pollution incident.

We have over 20 years’ experience conducting oil and chemical tank decommissioning projects and will combine the health, safety and environmental impacts with the most cost effective solutions.

Different components of tank decommissioning projects include:

Planning the project – stringently planning the project to ensure health and safety aspects are prioritised.

Sampling residual liquids – to ensure the disposal method is legally compliant and the most cost effective option.

Waste removal and disposal – Firstly we would drain all remaining liquids and ensure they are disposed of correctly. Any residues which cannot be drained e.g. sludge will be removed mechanically by a vacuum tanker or where necessary manually by a confined space and breathing apparatus trained team.

Decontamination of tanks – industrial cleaning of the tanks, either in situ, or at a licenced site after removal to allow the tank to be recycled and reduce waste from landfill.

Tank Removal & Disposal - Removal of the tank via crane lifting and transport to licenced waste facility for disposal.

Tank Cutting – If access issues make it unsafe or uneconomical to remove the tank intact the tank can be dismantled in situ using hot and cold cutting techniques.

Gas testing and issuing of gas free certificates.

Decontamination and removal of associated infrastructure – This can include removal/capping of pipework and decontamination of plinths and bunds often to a level where they can be disposed of as inert waste.

Contaminated Land Testing & Remediation – where tanks have potentially caused contamination to the surrounding land we can undertake a Site Investigation to establish any contamination and can undertake remediation works to remove any contamination which is discovered.

Specific industries and different sizes and types of tank have specific guidance on how to decommission them. GPT structure every tank decommissioning project to follow the relevant legislation and best practise guidance that applies to the specific tank including APEA – Blue Book and OFTEC TECHNICAL BOOK 3 - Decommissioning Oil Storage Tanks.

Tank Decommissioning Case Studies

HFO tank decommissioning

Extracts from legislation and guidance

“The improper removal of an oil storage tank can result in a serious accident and/or pollution incident. Therefore, it is necessary to consider all potential safety and environmental hazards and subsequently, adopt appropriate precautionary measures.”

The OFTEC TECHNICAL BOOK - Decommissioning Oil Storage Tanks

"As part of the decommissioning process you should:

  • Carry out a full environmental risk assessment.
  • Sample any surrounding soil and groundwater (you should do this before, during and after decommissioning) - the results from this will be important in your risk assessment.
  • Remove any residual product from the tank and pipes (this is called ‘bottoming’).
  • Remove any explosive vapours from the tank and pipes to make them safe, before removing them from the ground.
  • Remove and then clean tanks, pipes, dispensers and separators"

Government Advice - Decommissioning an underground storage tank

"When you stop using a container you must make sure it doesn’t cause pollution. Above or below ground tanks need specialist decommissioning then removal off site by a registered waste carrier."

Environment Agency guidance - Pollution prevention for businesses

"After your tank has been decommissioned or removed, check that the surrounding soil or groundwater hasn’t been contaminated. This can include testing surface and subsurface soil and groundwater samples for products relating to what you were storing. If contamination is found, take action as soon as possible to remove the pollution."

Above ground oil storage tanks: GPP 2

Need advice for services and products? Call us now 01656 741 799

Geo Pollution Technologies (UK) LTD - company number - 04689357


GPT head office is based in South Wales and covers all areas of South Wales, West Wales and Mid Wales including Cardiff, Swansea, Bridgend, Newport, Port Talbot, Powys, Llanelli, Neath, Pembrokeshire and Aberystwyth.

We also cover the South West of England including Bristol, Plymouth, Bath, Gloucester, Somerset, Cornwall, Devon, Worcester, Southampton and Swindon.

We also operate across the midlands, London, Birmingham, Leicester, Northampton, Derby, Stoke, Nottingham, Coventry, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Slough, Heathrow, Leatherhead and Surrey.